ECONOMY

Kozloduy part-closure costs

SOFIA (Reuters) -Bulgaria will seek compensation from the European Union to make up for bowing to EU demands to shut two reactors at its nuclear power plant Kozloduy in 2006, Energy Minister Milko Kovachev said yesterday. Late last year, European Union candidate Bulgaria agreed to close down Soviet-designed Kozloduy’s 440-megawatt reactors numbers three and four by the end of 2006 in a bid to avoid derailing accession talks with the wealthy bloc. The EU, which has said the units cannot be made safe at a reasonable price, has rewarded Sofia by setting 2007 as an entry target date. Kovachev told local private television bTV that Bulgaria had estimated the closure would cause losses of 1.7 billion euros ($1.99 billion) to the country. «The government does not question the agreement of closing down the reactors in 2006… But European Union taxpayers should cover the consequences,» Kovachev said. In January this year, the Balkan country closed two more 440-megawatt reactors at Kozloduy, numbers one and two. The more modern units five and six will remain operational. The 3,760 megawatts Kozloduy has generated provided Bulgaria’s cheapest energy and enabled it to cover half of the annual regional power deficit in the Balkans with electricity exports. Kovachev said Bulgaria’s demands for compensation would partly hinge on the results of a current EU safety check of Kozloduy’s reactors three and four. Sofia is confident the inspection will prove the units are safe to operate beyond 2006 after last year’s mission by the world nuclear watchdog IAEA concluded that Bulgaria has addressed and solved all safety issues.